Katie's Game Corner: Four Games I Played in 2018 That Helped Me Fall in Love with Boardgames Again
I played around 50 to 60 games last year, some new, some old, some I hated and some I absolutely adored. Then there are some games I played last year that got me excited to play games again, they ignited a passion inside me that hadn’t been there for a while and I wanted to write a little bit about that. Something I learned in 2018 is that boardgame fatigue is real. When you have a hobby that you love so much and consume yourself with it, it is likely to have an effect. Sometimes that can be positive, most of the time it is, but it can also be negative at times and that’s when you need to take a break or step back from that hobby and that is a very healthy thing to do.
I was lucky enough to start working freelance on a full time basis in the boardgame industry in November 2017 where I started working with Kolossal Games, doing community management on some of their early Kickstarter campaigns including Western Legends, Kami-Sama and more. I had been working in the industry for a long time before that but never freelance where I was often working three jobs at a time.
I threw myself into my work, working on a lot of different Kickstarter campaigns which I loved but I couldn’t really get excited about board games any more. They had turned into my life and I didn’t have an escape or another hobby to turn to as board games was that escape. I was loving working in the industry, it was rewarding and I got to learn so much, but it also takes a lot out of you and somewhere along the way, I fell out of love with board games a bit, well, playing them at least.
Then there’s mental illness. It is no secret that I deal with depression and although playing boardgames is often a great escape, sometimes depression has a way of stealing the joy from the things you once loved. It doesn’t mean that you will never find joy again but at the time, it can be a lonely place. Sometimes you can’t listen to songs you love, sometimes your favourite foods just don’t taste that great anymore and sometimes being sat around a table playing games and being social just feels unbearable.
I have fallen back in love with boardgames and I am so excited to start playing more. Amongst the stress, and the burnout, I was lucky enough to play some games that helped me realize why I loved this hobby so much. A handful of games that I also personally think have made a huge impact on the hobby, too.
Lets get started.
Fog Of Love
Fog of Love is a romantic comedy in the form of a boardgame and it is genius. It’s a 2 player game where you both will create and play two characters who meet, fall in love and face the challenge of making an unusual relationship work. There’s a tutorial which helps you learn how to play the game the first time making it super accessible and easy to get to the table. It’s also perfect if you don’t have the headspace to read a rulebook or need a game you can quickly find yourself immersed in.
The first time I played it, I couldn’t really get into my character, it was so different to anything I had played before but after a couple of plays, I was all in. You take on a character, you pick personality traits, a job, your appearance and so on and throughout the game, you are faced with different scenarios that as a couple, you have to make mutual decisions on and depending how compatible you are, you earn points. During the game, you will stumble upon certain situations that can be testing at times or full of drama. You are thrown into a whirlwind of emotions and it’s really easy to forget that you are playing a character. Fog Of Love is so different to anything I’ve ever played and it gets the biggest thumbs up from me.
Fort Sumter takes all of the best parts of a card driven game and condenses them into a 25 minute game, portraying the Secession Crisis of 1860, and being a 2 player game that does truly play in around 25 minutes, I got it to the table so many times in 2018. Fort Sumter is so accessible due to play time, set up and ease of learning and so easy to get to the table without losing the strategy of a longer wargame. During the game, one side will depict the Unionists and one side will depict Secessionists as you take on a political tug-of-war, gaining points each round.
During the game, the Unionist player represents the people that were opposed to the disunion of the northern and southern states and uses the blue tokens during the game. The Secessionist player represents a political movement attempting to preserve a dying culture built on slave labour. It’s an important piece of history to learn about and Herman helps us to do that with his extensive playbook and thoughtful design.
I loved playing Fort Sumter a lot last year as it was a game I could get out and play with anyone, regardless of if they wanted to play a wargame or not. Fort Sumter helped me play games with people when I didn’t have a lot of time or patience for a longer game of the same kind of style and it also helped me introduce designer Mark Herman and political style games to people who hadn’t tried them before.
Root is a game of adventure and war in which 2 to 4 players battle for control of a vast wilderness. Root has a beautiful combination of elegant wargame style mechanics and an ingenious theme which was a huge hit with so many people in 2018.
The map, combined with the different factions and single use cards, makes for a very interesting game. The game uses a single deck of mutli purpose cards, each player will use those cards in a very different way. This made for a very tense game, swapping cards, potentially knowing what card your opponent has, only wishing that it was yours. Being able to use those cards properly adds another layer of excitement to an already tense game.
Root has given so many people an insight into the world of wargaming including COIN games and other asymmetric wargames, and that is something I am thankful for. Wargames can seem intimidating, there are a lot of pieces and a lot going on and the theme just isn’t for everybody, however, a lot of people are intrigued by the idea of wargames and want to try them out. Root has provided an accessible wargame experience without losing any of the strategy or depth of a wargame and that is why it makes my list!
Holding On: The Troubled Life Of Billy Kerr
Holding On is probably the game of the year for me. It is a subject that I hold very close to my heart and it was incredible to see it being covered in such an innovative way. Holding On: The Troubled Life Of Billy Kerr is a co-operative game in which players take on the role of nursing staff at a hospice and are providing care for terminally ill people. I know it is an extremely personal and heavy subject but it is an important one and it was so surprising to see it done in such a respectful way.
During the game, you are helping Billy Kerr unravel his difficult past and finding out more about him as time goes on. There are 10 scenarios to play during the game and each scenario will teach you a bit more about Billy’s life. I completely understand that this game isn’t for everybody, you are uncovering some very deep and emotional things at some points during the game and it can be difficult if similar experiences have happened to you or loved ones but it is such an awesome experience. In 2018, I loved discovering games that are a bit different, that make you feel something and that offer rich narrative. There are twists and turns throughout the game that keep you hooked all the way through.
Thank you for reading.